With NFL Kickoff right around the corner, I figured I’d take a look at my roster predictions for the New England Patriots. Surprisingly, I was right about one thing: Sony Michel did, in fact, get traded, just not for the price I had him at. While there are plenty of moves to be made, I will take another stab at what I think the final 53 man roster will be. This will include potential trades to look out for and who I think will make the practice squad. As of writing this, there are 3 players on the reserve list: Dalton Keene, Marcus Martin, and Raekwon McMillan. Keep your eyes on Keene to potentially upset Asasi at the Tight End Position. I don’t have an explanation for my practice squad predictions, just a hunch based on position depth. Some of my takes may stay the same from my first rendition, but without further ado, let’s begin.
N’Keal Harry + Stephon Gilmore: With the recent addition of Shaun Wade, I am beginning to side with the common fan and say we SHOULDN’T trade Stephon Gilmore. However, if we trade him and N’Keal Harry for a solid wide-out and some high draft capital, the exception to this, Bleacher Report’s Brad Gagnon suggested N’Keal Harry and Stephon Gilmore for Michael Gallup and a second-round pick. This pick, in my mind, works for both the Patriots and the Cowboys. Cowboys bolster their secondary and fill the whole Gallup will leave with young talent, while New England can get a high pick (either for drafting or for acquiring a CB) and get a solid wideout that has been consistent. This trade, to me, is more realistic than one for OBJ or Michael Thomas, but it’s still far from being a reality.
Cam Newton: With the recent “misunderstanding,” Newton is surely in hot water. Regardless, he still has shown he has plenty of good football left. I won’t say he is the clear QB1, but he definitely has a roster spot locked up.
Mac Jones: Once again, we drafted him at 15 overall, so he’s a sure lock to make the roster. Especially after an outstanding pre-season, if he plays like this in the final pre-season game, QB1 might be his.
James White: Dodged a bullet there when he hit free agency, as there was a moment when he didn’t sign with us. With White back, he will be rotating in and out of the RB1 slot like he always has, being utilized as a receiving back. It also helps to have a talented vet like White to help some of the rookies.
Damien Harris: Harris showed up in 2020, becoming a bright spot on a team that showed a lot of flaws. While he didn’t run wild, he did show major improvement as a power back. Expect him to be our main power back, taking significantly more snaps in 2021.
Rhamondre Stevenson: Our 4th round pick is another drafted player with a lock on a roster spot. Despite my protests of wanting to take a wideout here, Rhamondre has shown a lot of upsides. The man put on a clinic in his first preseason game and kept on going in game 2. While I was skeptical at first, I’m now a believer.
JJ Taylor: The Sony Michel trade opened the gate for Taylor. Small? Sure, but the dude has moved, and he is tricky to bring down. We need an elusive back with good speed and acceleration. If he shows to be a good pass catcher, he will be a dangerous weapon in the Patriots backfield.
Jakob Johnson: Easy decision, especially after Vitale retired. Johnson can block, catch, and financially he seems willing to work with the organization to stay with the team. We are a full-back loving team, and we aren’t trying anyone out.
Nelson Agholor: It’s hard to determine who is WR1 as of right now, but with the money we spent on Agholor, he is a sure-fire lock. Coming off an amazing season with the Raiders, I believe there is still good football left in him. If we can spread the ball around, keeping the eyes off Agholor, he will be dangerous.
Kendrick Bourne: Another free agency pick-up and competitor for WR1. Similar to Agholor, he is a lock based on what we spent. Though it is possible he can fit nicely in the WR2 position to keep the eyes of our WR1, don’t be too surprised if he wins the starting role.
Jakobi Meyers: Meyers showed up all season long last year, and we as a fan base are grateful for it. With Edelman gone, one could argue that Meyers fits in nicely where Edelman once stood, the reliable go-to guy on the offense. He can run the wildcat, and he can play in the slot. He can stretch the field, not stand out at every aspect but is good at a lot of it.
N’Keal Harry: I still see Harry as up in the air, despite improvements. I think there are other options to explore, and we can potentially get something in return for him. If no trades happen with him, however, he’s on the team.
Gunner Olszewski: Another guy that is stepping into the Edelman role, mainly at return man. However, Olszewski can become the main slot guy with his speed. I can see him sharing roles with Meyers, but due to Meyers’s swiss-army play style and our newly added depth at the position, Olszewski may see most of his time on special teams with fewer snaps on offense.
Hunter Henry: A top-rated tight end falls into the Patriots’ lap in free agency. Of course, he has a locked spot on the roster. The real question is whether or not Hunter Henry is going to be TE1. There is competition with Jonnu Smith for the starting role. Either way, Henry will be on the field for a majority of snaps because he is the kind of tight end Belichick loves.
Jonnu Smith: Another top-quality tight end falls into the Patriots’ lap, so naturally, he will be a lock. Smith and Henry as a duo are deadly. They will be competing for starts, but keep your eyes on them when they share the field. The acquisition of the two brings depth to our blocking and receiving game.
Devin Asasi: Dalton Keene went down, so now all Asasi has to do is beat out Kahale Warring. I think the Patriots are starting to believe more in their pick to see some reps throughout the regular season. If he can improve blocking, I think he can bloom into a nice all-around tight end.
(Tackle) Isaiah Wynn, Trent Brown: With the return of Trent Brown, our exterior line is looking real secure. Wynn has always been a top-quality lineman, pairing him with Brown, who knows our system already; it’s no shock to me that they have roster spots locked up.
(Guard) Michael Onwenu, Shaq Mason: The biggest surprise of the 2020 season was the former 6ht rounder Onwenu stepping up big. Onwenu’s play made Joe Thuney expendable, so naturally, he is a lock. Mason has been a different breed of the guard for the Patriots, with surprising speed to match his strength.
(Center) David Andrews: Another scare in free agency, we feared we almost lost our center. But Andrews showed his loyalty by returning, talking about how comfortable and happy he felt in our system. Players that enjoy where they play to play better.
(Flex) Justin Herron, Ted Karras, Alex Redmond: The Patriots are fairly deep at O-Line, but I don’t see William Sherman beating out Justin Herron. We still have backups to plug up any holes that may appear, and that is exactly what Herron, Redmond, and Karras can provide. They have experience at guard, tackle, and Karras has experience with center.
(Edge) Deatrich Wise. Jr, Chase Winovich, Ronnie Perkins, Matthew Judon, Josh Uche: It’s interesting how Bill’s defense works since one can argue that a lot of our outside linebackers can be defensive ends and vice versa. Winovich and Wise are returning studs, having already known the system and performed very well in it, so they can easily lock it up. Uche and Perkins are young bucks but have shown plenty of promise already. I don’t believe I need to say more about the performance Matthew Judon has put on so far.
(Defensive Tackle) Montravius Adams, Christian Barmore, Nick Thurman, Lawrence Guy: Like defensive ends, the defensive tackles can be swapped with the defensive ends and vice versa. Lawrence Guy has a spot locked up for being a returning vet, and Adams and Thurman are beating out the competition so far. The best draft pick for the Patriots, in my opinion, Christian Barmore, will for sure make the roster, no question. Our D-Line is bursting with talent, and to me, these four stand out amongst the pack.
Dont’a Hightower: No shocker here. Our star guy sat out the 2020 season with an opt-out. There is some question as to how well he will play after missing an entire season, by choice, but to me, he still has gas in the tank. Sure he’s 32, but he is the captain of this team, so expect to see him make the final roster.
Kyle Van Noy: Welcome back KVN, here’s your complimentary roster spot and your old jersey if you want it. Releasing KVN was a good move. Bringing him back was a better one. We needed that veteran presence who knows the playbook, that underdog LB who no one really watches out for. He’s good competition for Uche, Jennings, and Bently. He’ll obviously fit in nicely with the system, and his presence will drive the other LB’s to work harder.
Anfernee Jennings: I still have my doubts, but having depth at the linebacker is a feature of the Belichick system I love. As of right now, Jennings is a solid piece to move around, and while he is still young, I have faith he’ll develop along with Uche nicely.
Ja’Whaun Bently: He seems like a nice inside linebacker who can get to the backfield while also effectively covering most tight ends. While I don’t see him sharing snaps with Hightower, don’t be surprised if and when he sees the field.
Harvey Langi: With McGrone still recovering, potentially making a comeback, Langi has stepped up. His pre-season performance has been solid, so unless McGrone can come back and ball out, Langi should land as a backup.
Stephon Gilmore: I originally believed we did not need Gilly. Well, the more I look at who we have at D-Back, the more comfortable I feel if Gilly stayed. He’s got plenty of juice left. The only iffy part is his contract. Let’s extend Jackson and see if Gilmore can ball out this contract year.
JC Jackson: The real tragedy with Jackson is the fact that we haven’t extended him. I guess Bill wants to see if he can have a repeat year from last year, which I believe he will. He’ll stay at CB2, with the ability to effectively lock down most wide receivers but needed to prove he can play consistently. You should still pay the man. He has talent.
Shaun Wade: A rookie I wanted them to draft, lands in our lap thanks to the Baltimore Ravens having depth at the corner position. We got a good one in Wade, and now we have a young stud to develop for many years to come. I think he will start low on the totem pole, but I would not be shocked if he worked his way up.
Jonathan Jones: An unsung hero in the secondary, Jonathan Jones is why we have so much depth. When Gilmore and J-Mac were above him, he was a silent contributor. Not too flashy, not too loud, but useful nonetheless. In this situation, with Gilmore gone, I see him taking a big step and making his presence known.
Joejuan Williams: Williams is interesting because he was often overshadowed last year, but still, being young, he can develop if pushed and put into a bigger role. The many hungry defensive backs on the roster will certainly help push him there, and he should fit nicely into Bill’s system.
Jalen Mills: The Green Goblin, now a Patriot, most see him in the safety position, but I think he’ll be used more in coverage. He can go both ways, so it’s going to be fun to see what kind of packages Belichick and co. come up with. Mills seems like the kind of guy you can plug in anywhere in the secondary.
Devin McCourty: I mean, come on now. D-Mac has been the staple of the Pats secondary since he got the job at safety. He is a Patriot for life, and his roster spot will always be locked until he cannot play anymore.
Joshua Bledsoe: An unsurprising pick for them, as they need to prepare for the future without D-Mac. I’d see Bledsoe making contributions on special teams and backing up McCourty as well. But it wouldn’t shock me to see him get playing time even in a backup role. Belichick loves getting creative on defense.
Adrian Colbert: Colbert has been showing up this pre-season which leads me to believe he can overtake Phillips for a roster spot. He has been a solid safety so far; he may even challenge Dugger for the starting spot if he keeps this play up.
Kyle Dugger: Patrick Chung he is not…..yet. Dugger wearing Chung’s number is a sign of respect to him and receiving Chung’s blessing. If Rodney Harrison believes in Dugger, then I do too. The kid showed a lot of talent, so I’m willing to bet he locks up a roster spot and quite realistically wins the starting strong safety gig over Phillips.
(PK) Quinn Nordin: Weirdly, the Kicker battle has been my favorite so far. I love the UDFA, chip on the shoulder, almost gave up, a kid from Michigan. He had a bad week 2 in the preseason, but I think we should put some faith in him. He’s young, he’ll make mistakes, but he has shown a willingness to learn and improve.
(P) Jake Bailey: One of the few Patriots 2020 Pro Bowlers; of course, he is a lock. The dude has a Warhammer for a leg, hitting the ball into oblivion. Much like the majority of NFL fans, I didn’t care for punters. But thanks to Pat Mcafee, I am now a huge fan of Jake Bailey.
(ST) Matthew Slater, Brandon King, Cody Davis: Our special team players may see very little time on any other side of the field. Matthew Slater returns, a team captain and leader of the special teams’ side. He has the intellect and leader mentality to command a powerful unit. Cody Davis and Brandon King, both members of that unit, play smart and safe football. These guys are what make our special teams so special.
- Myles Bryant, DB
- Tre Nixon, WR
- Bill Murray, DT
- Terez Hill, LB
- Dalton Keene, TE
- Yodny Cajuste, OL
- William Sherman, OL
- Adrian Phillips, DB
- Brandin Bolden, RB
- Jarrett Stidham, QB
- Nick Folk, K
- Byron Cowart, DT
- Kristian Wilkerson, WR
- Matt LaCosse, TE
- Henry Anderson, EDGE
- Carl Davis, DT
While I, funnily enough, said that my last prediction was my final, this one may as well be my final. Let me know what you think, as well as any questions. Here’s hoping for a better season for New England.